One month ago we met the babies for the first time. Two weeks ago, our feet landed on US soil with them in tow. Throughout, we’ve been on a steep learning curve as we all try to acclimate to one another and settle into the new normal. Make no mistake: this was a tall order.
Coming home was amazing. Not only was the visa ordeal in China over and we were once again back in the company of our loved ones but we also came home to a clean house with a warm meal on the stove (thank you Bernadette) and a fridge and pantry full of Costco items (thank you Mom, Mary, Jess and Holly…and others I’m sure I’m forgetting) and diapers (thank you Suzanna!) Mike’s amazing dad kept up on the mowing and even took care of several items from our honey-do list that had long gone neglected by us in the months leading up to our trip (thank you Dad!)
There is no getting around the fact that our lives have changed significantly by adding not one but two vulnerable and highly dependent little people into our fold. The task has been joyful but daunting. Rewarding but mightily overwhelming. Factor in the jet lag, nearly doubling the number of littles in our charge and just the daily grind of re-acclimating to family life–including the multiple doctor’s visits around town–the potential for tears (for all involved) is ever-present.
Within a week of being home and with my clean house now trashed, Mike had to return to work and I suddenly found myself needing to get acquainted with being left alone with all 5. It was either sink or swim, but thankfully I’ve had a small army of family and friends rallying around to support us. Trips to the pediatrician’s office, getting Joseph to the orthopedist and getting him started on the Ponseti treatment for his foot, getting Isaac seen by the endodontist and hearing that last year’s cracked tooth incident now warrants a root canal next week and all the other myriad of activities, tasks and duties that make up normal family life. I’ve yet to catch my breath.
Cue self-pity party.
Life has indeed changed significantly…for the better. But don’t misunderstand me: this past month has been one of the hardest I’ve ever known. We are being stretched and challenged in ways I never knew possible. I say this not to complain or to discourage. We are in a time of transition and are more overwhelmed than we’ve ever been but in a good, soul-cleansing way.
It’s very tempting to lament the hardships of our new normal, the loss of my free time and the uphill battle with which we are now faced. Too easy to resent the never-ending whining and tears and napless days. It would be very easy to dwell on the daily difficulties and lose sight of the little everyday joys. And I’ll admit, I’ve caught myself wallowing in my little discomforts (little sleep, two clinging toddlers, having food thrown in my face and being bitten when I try to kiss them) even as our brand new toddlers have been trying to make sense of the world that has just been turned upside down on them.
But that’s when I have to remind myself (for the thousandth time) that it’s. not. about. me. However much this time of transition is uncomfortable and trying for me, it must be 1,000 times so for them.
We made a decision not for luxury but for love. We consciously chose the “not easy”. So it should come as no surprise to anyone–ourselves especially–that being suddenly and irrevocably responsible for 5 kids (two of which are scared, grieving toddlers with demanding physical and emotional needs) has been one of the most (if not THE most) difficult challenges we’ve ever faced. Since being home I’ve had my weaker moments of feeling like a failure, even resentful, of what we’ve been tasked with.
But I’ve also been blessed to see the beauty, the goodness, the joy, the grace. I have seen glimpses of their future–OUR future with M and J. I have witnessed Isaac and Sam turn to butter in the hands of these two babes. I have heard them remark (daily) how they can’t believe how LUCKY they are to have TWO babies. I have watched with pride as Sarah has outgrown being the baby of the family and blossomed into the role of the proud big sister, eager (if not a little aggressively) ready to help carry or feed them. Marianna and Joseph are irreplaceable members of our family and they are teaching all of us so much about God’s love and mercy.
We are still deeply entrenched into the time of transition. In time, wounds will heal and what feels foreign now in terms of managing the sheer number of littles around me will soon be second nature.
We are making progress in the right direction. It’s slow and tedious work. Two steps forward, one step back. We are still far from any sort of schedule, naps are still elusive (seriously, how do two 20-month-olds simply NOT nap?) and both babies cling to me–and only me–throughout the day. We are working on getting them warmed up more to Mike. It just all takes time and patience. Truckloads of patience.
I was thinking about all of this the other morning during prayer and came across this quote from the Gospel of John which pretty well sums it all up:
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. (John 12:24)